How to Run a Focus Group

A survey is usually a faster and more accurate way to do qualitative research than a focus group. Focus groups, however, allow you to obtain more complex, nuances and diverse reactions than surveys that do not allow more interactive conversations. In essence, the focus group is the best way to get a full array of approach. The success of focus groups, however, depends heavily on the efficient leadership of its intermediary.

Planning a Focus Group

Pick a single, clear purpose.

It is an opportunity to know the nuances of customers, potential customers, staff members or a community. Ideally, you will only talk to a group that focuses on one of these groups. They will express opinions on one topic, which should be kept on one product or issue. There is one reason why this is called a meditation group.

Narrow down your target audience.

Are you researching how your product gets between teenagers? Which age range specifically? Do they have specific interests, hobbies or spending habits? The more specific you can get it, the better it is to guide your recruitment and get useful feedback.

If your target audience includes members of a particular profession, such as Doctor, then do not try to combine them with other demographics. They will most likely be able to speak freely around people of the same background.

If you are concerned with the workplace satisfaction, consider targeting some job positions, on which employees feel particularly dissatisfied.

Consider organizing a control group.

If you have the resources to run two focus groups, consider running a focus group with participants from your target demographic, and an audience with a wide pool of potential customers or community members. This second “control group” helps you distinguish the unique opinion of target demographic from those that are shared more widely.

Refrain from using the focus group for ulterior motives.

Focus groups are less effective when vendors or customers try to move beyond the basic realm of the project. You may need to correct participants in your focus group about some of their misconceptions about the objectives of focus groups.

A focus group is not a meeting. You are not trying to get the consensus or come up with a solution.

A meditation group is not a public relations opportunity. Do not go out of your way to present your organization in a good light.

A focus group is not a way to collect statistical data; The sample size is very small and the data is qualitative.

Find a second facilitator.

Can take a helpful notes and handle the recorder, so that you can focus on facilitating the discussion. The assistant should not participate in the discussion, otherwise the facilitators dominate in the discussion and the authority of the lead moderator is underestimated.

However, the assistant should introduce himself before the beginning of the focus group. This is important for the participants to feel comfortable with an extra person in the room.

Unless they have any explicit role, no one should exist, such as managing snacks and sign-in sheets. Unnecessary audiences can disturb the participants.

Choose a comfortable venue and recording method.

Find a private area where participants will feel comfortable and relaxed. Video cameras or one-sided observation mirrors are often used for market research, but they are not suitable for focus groups covering sensitive or tarnished topics. If you are concerned about the effect of observing the participants on comfort then use an audio recorder instead.

Arranging seats in a circle will make all participants realize more and more comfortable participating, for example, they are sitting at a rectangular table, with a person on their head.

Prepare questions.

Design questions to encourage participants to open and talk about their views in depth. Do not ask yes or no questions, because people are more likely to answer “yes” to make you happy. Instead, “What do you think about this product?” Or such questions that describe both options, such as “Do you think the color of this product should be changed, or should it be kept equally?”

Avoid technical terms and jargon. Keep sentences short and focus so that they do not confuse the participants. Avoid questions that embarrass the participants or they can scare them in silence.

Start with questions that encourage the participants to talk about the topic in general so that they can be intuitive and familiar with the topic of conversation. For example, “How do you like to use your smart phone?” Go to the questions reaching the discussion material: “How would you use the Theosaurus app?” Before concluding, ask if someone has something else? It was said that the discussion had not come before.

Before proceeding on more negative questions, ask positive questions to establish comfort. Ask: “What do you dislike about this product before asking” what you like about this product? “

Plan out how you will record data.

Before you start getting the data, you will want to consider how you will store it. This means that not only is getting a tape recorder but also thinking about a format in which you can organize and sort through your data. For example, Excel spreadsheets can be used to record responses and label them according to general topics. This database will ultimately be used for the purpose that you have received any particular type of feedback and easily serve as source for effective quotations on any topic.

Remember to keep data in a password protected area, especially if you are working in a university system in which strict privacy measures are required. If the data needs to be shared with many researchers, use a password protected online database such as Dropbox.

Recruiting Participants

Write your advertisements to whittle down potential applicants.

Use explicitly announced declarations and an introductory questionnaire to make the requirements, date, and time as clear as possible. If you are looking for a particular type of participant, for example. In the advertisement, people of a particular age group explain.

Use targeted advertising.

Advertise your Focus Group in a method that is most appropriate for your target group. For community issues, talk about your project with the workers of community organizations and ask them to pass on an email or envelope. Post posters to locations where your targeted demographic people are likely to come.

Solicit participants within an organization.

If, for example, your focus group is related to a particular company’s staff, you can choose a name randomly from the list of employees. You can also ask the bosses to nominate those individuals who have a special knowledge of the subject. For a more targeted approach, you can interview the committees or groups of people established with the title of the same job.

When the partnership is not random, you should keep in mind that the interpersonal mobility of people who know each other will be obstructing your research. Does the existence of the authority figure scare some? Is there a group of people who are especially close to who might dominate in the discussion?

Offer incentives.

Offer “goodies, bags” money, coupons, paid time or free meals and drinks. Incentives are a major reason for people to join focus groups, and compensation should be given to the participants to provide valuable information.

In most cases, you will need to offer a participant at least $ 50 to adequately reward. However, you can also give a great reward to the winner of a random drawing. Draw the person at the end of focus groups so that nobody is suspected of doing wrong things.

Recruit six to ten people.

It is big enough to get a variety of opinions, but it is so small that everyone should be comfortable. It is possible that the 10% -20% of the sign-ups will remember the focus group. However, you do not want more than ten people to come. If you invite ten to eight people, then you should have a comfortable number of those discussing.

Coordinate a meeting.

Establish that all members of the group are ready to meet at a particular place and time. Once you establish that this is the case, send the written confirmation two days before the Focus group to remind the meeting. In the note, thank them for their participation and remind them of the date, time, place and award for the Focus Group.

Running the Focus Group

Pass out forms.

You will want to pass a small consent form which can be given in two or three paragraphs for the purpose of the study. Note that the responses will be recorded. Sometimes you may want to include an additional form where the participants provide demographic information, including their background along with the subject.

No demographic forms should take more than three minutes to complete.

Plans for participants to arrive 15 minutes before the beginning of the actual focus group. This will give them time to fill paper work, bite for food, relax and present themselves.

Have the participants introduce themselves.

If there is a little known about other people in the group, then people usually have a more comfortable sharing opinion, even if it is their name. This is especially true for groups paying attention to controversial community issues.

Often the question of an icebreaker is, “Where can everyone come from” or “Everyone will like to go on holiday,” people can feel comfortable.

Set a table at the entrance to the place with the name tag. If the focus group is made of anonymous strangers, use random number of name tags to use. Use these numbers to identify participants.

Announce the purpose of the meeting.

Create an introduction that clearly explains the reason for meeting the group. Do not assume that people are familiar with the subject in hand, or how the focus group works. Please tell that this is a Brainstorm, to share as many detailed opinions as possible.

Remind them that the Focus group will be recorded, but that there are no correct answers and its purpose is to get their opinion.

Ask questions to guide the discussion.

Use one of your prepared questions to kick off the discussion. Until you get good feedback, stay with the subject. If participants are briefly answering, use additional, unprepared questions to ask in more detail.

Encourage people to expand their reactions, ask them, “Can you say more about this?” Briefly say what someone has said and ask if others feel the same. If no one is talking about, then turn them and inquire about their thoughts as it has been said now.

You should usually enter with more than 10 ready-made questions. Ideally, your questions should encourage participants to talk to each other so that you can get away from the conversation.

Stay neutral and empathetic.

Do not give your personal opinion in the questions, or allow the participants to share their views on the topic. “Do not you think it would be better …”? Participants should feel that the criteria are interested in everyone’s feelings.

To make the participants comfortable, it is important that the mediator is one that they can relate to but respect. For example, to choose a single gender, participants can be important to realize that they have a sympathetic host as a focus group.

Constantly scan the room and connect with eyes, especially with those who are speaking less frequently.

Record responses.

The assistant should manage the tape recorder and write a comment in the event of the failure of the recorder. However, the assistant should be cautious about things that have not been recorded. Note, for example, body language when this bear feels how the participant feels about the subject.

Prevent any one individual from dominating the conversation.

If a participant talks more often than others, then it’s your job to politely. The best strategy is usually to encourage other people to speak, such as “Is anyone else having a different perspective?”

Especially after a long and complicated response, it has been said that it is good for the arbitrator to summarize. Once it’s clear, it will be easy for participants to make a comment. In addition, the ability to retrieve such points shows the moderator inherent in discussion, encourages participation.

Your goal should be to get different opinions from the participants as much as possible. It is important to keep the conversation open and easy.

Tamp down arguments.

Explain that you are not trying to reach consensus, get more useful data from more opinion. If the participants are still hot or rational, then change the subject to the next question.

End the meeting within an hour and a half.

Your Focus group members will be tired and therefore, the focus is somewhat less productive between 45 to 90 minutes after the start of the group. Set a set end time so that participants know what to expect. By casting briefly the useful results of the Focus Group, casting the focus group in a good light. Thanks everyone for the contribution.

Provide opportunities for feedback and review.

Give the participants a chance to provide feedback, if the Focus group does not run easily using an anonymous system, or if the participants are your colleagues. You can also review the event as a convenience to prepare the organization better for the next one.


After the participants exit the room, record the date, time and name of the group on the recorder. Discuss important takeaways and body language cues with helpers to ensure that the rest of the focus is recorded with the group’s information.


You usually want to ask the same questions from three or four new groups. The aim of a focus group is to get as many different opinions. Therefore, you should ideally continue the focus groups as long as you are not listening to new ideas.

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